Washington's Legislature continues to consider a proposal for a new statewide tourism marketing program this week, with two bills supporting the program making their way through committee.

Yesterday, members of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade & Economic Development Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 5251. And next Wednesday, Feb. 15, the companion bill, Substitute House Bill 1123, will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee.

The Washington Hospitality Association, which has voiced its strong support for the program, hailed the recent hearing as an important step.

 “For our members — the local family restaurants and family-owned vacation properties — a tourism marketing program would mean more money into local communities, which means more jobs and economic development in rural and urban areas alike, from Aberdeen to Zillah,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of Washington Hospitality Association. “We know these bills have a long road ahead, but they are making good progress. The economic benefits of these bills really speak for themselves: Washington state Tourism generates $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenue and supports 170,500 jobs. That’s essential money that can be used for schools, public safety and other state priorities,” he said.

Washington state is the only state without a statewide tourism marketing program. Competing western states have budgets ranging from $7 million to $50 million.